¡Vamos a Cantar y Jugar! Let’s Sing and Play!: Carnivalito

by Debanhi Garcia

June 2023

Debanhi Garcia shares highlights from her presentation with Vicky Suárez at the 2023 SongWorks Conference. SWEA members can access the handout from this presentation via the Members Access area of the SWEA website.

I am privileged to teach in one of the most diverse cities in the North Texas Metroplex. With many religions, races, and nationalities represented, you are sure to find a place where you are welcomed in the community. When I first heard “Carnivalito” by Shenanigans!, I was immediately hooked by its playful percussion trio and joyful interpretation of the folk-style Andean pan flute music of the Andes Mountains. From the first listen, I knew it belonged in my classroom, and so began my journey to “SongWorksify” this piece and bring it to life. 

“Carnivalito” starts with movement, which is my favorite way to start a lesson and an effective strategy that supports the SongWorks Principle of Teaching: “The major goal of music study is the development of responsiveness to music” (SW2: Principle 1). From the beginning the students will be engaged and feel successful when they recognize the rhythmic pattern changes and how it reflects their movement. Since there will be skipping and marching with “Carnivalito,” I take a moment to watch the students and respond with accurate and constructive feedback, which affirms and encourages their learning process while preserving their musicality and safety needs (SW1: Principle 6).

After introducing “Carnivalito,” one of my favorite strategies for reviewing is song dotting. I show them a dot map I created, I pick a student volunteer to follow the map, and the class follows along from their seats. This happens several times, mistakes will be made, questions will bubble, and at this point, the students have taken over the learning. When the students feel prepared for what comes next, I introduce rhythm sticks and ukulele chords to the map. Once the music plays, they know exactly what to do, and that’s when the real magic happens.

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